Sunday 18 November 2012

Goosing around

Up and off. We headed to a couple of sites around the Peninsula to try and nail down a cirl bunting. Yep, spending time to try and find an introduced bunting…but they are pretty nice birds, so worth a bit of effort. We stopped at one spot, not a whisper from a bunting, other than yellowhammers which of course are dripping from every tree bough! We then moved to another spot and there amongst the yellowhammers was the pick of the buntings, but of course it flew and landed a fair way off, pausing before then dopping down into the grass out of sight! Typical. So, it was time to wait and see what would pop up, and finally it did and then flew across the road…and of course dropped down into the grass again. With the scope on grass and occasionally the bunting, it was seen by a few and then seemed to disappear! Waiting, waiting, and then another flew across the road…and disappeared. But as we walked up the road towards it, bingo a male in near breeding plumage dropped down onto a fence post almost in front of us! Perfect, everyone got stunning views and and was happy as we then zipped along the coast southwards towards Cheviot.

We made a quick stop at St Annes Lagoon for Cape Barren goose, seeing a nice pair in a paddock nearby and then a couple more on the other side of the lake. Also around were scaup, shovelor, grey teal, and common coot. Plenty of introduced finches and dunnocks around as well, but no Australian reed warblers!

Wending our way further south and then inland we were anxious to make speed so we could get to the Sheffield Pie Shop before the pie warmer was empty! And luckily we got there in time, just as the shelves were being restocked. Sitting in the sun outside with pie crumbs flying everyone had smiles on their faces. Pretty darn good!

We could see the weather rolling in over the Alps, and so knew it was going to be a little cooler and possibly some rain up there. So with tummies full of pie-goodness we headed on up the road. As we pulled into Arthur’s Pass Village we had to scour the place for kea…or at least we pulled into the first carpark and found one right there on the roof of a parked car! Right there in its natural habitat. As the drizzle came down we had good views of it from the van and then watched it join another across the road.

We then headed on up to Otira Viaduct and started looking out for blue duck, as well as kea and anything else. We found a couple more kea, but searched around the place for blue duck, stopping at quite a few places and searching the river. Some stunning scenery and lots of great looking habitat, but no ducks. It was raining a bit so not the best of conditions, but as we headed further towards the coast the weather brightened.

We made a quick stop as we headed along the very scenic coast north towards Punakaiki, and had a couple of Hector’s dolphins just offshore. They weren’t showing well, but just enough to see them break the surface and then their little rounded dorsal fins stick up out of the water. We had a quick walk in some forest to see if we could rustle up a brown creeper or two, but nothing except a few grey warbler, silvereyes and bellbirds.

We checked in to the accomodation, had a break and then dinner, during which the rain started again. Not wanting to let that beat us we headed out in search of great spotted kiwi. The rain eased and as we headed into the forest it stopped, nice timing. We stood and waited in the forest as it grew darker and shortly after dark a female great spot called off in the distance. We waited for a response, but seemingly the only response was the pitter patter of raindrops on the leaves of the tress as the rain started. So we decided to headed back to the van and head for bed!

Bird of the day – TBA
Day total – Seen = 48; new for the trip = 3; total for the trip to date = 138

A Cape Barren goose looks up from feeding.

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